Slot Machine Symbols: Unravelling Their Meanings
If you haven’t ever played a land-based slot machine or an online slot machine from your Wi-Fi/internet-connected smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, the games can seem rather confusing because there are so many different symbols to learn.
No two slots are ever the same, and there are now well over 4,000 different online slot machines from over 100 game development studios and software providers, meaning there are countless symbols.
However, things aren’t as difficult as they may first appear. Let’s take a closer look at slot machine symbols and unravel some of their meanings.
What do the different slot machine symbols mean?
In most casino slots today, for instance, there are only two main types of symbols – regular symbols with a standard value and special symbols, which can trigger in-play bonus features, free spins bonus features, or second-screen picking bonuses that take place away from the reels.
Special symbols, such as bonus symbols, scatter symbols, wild symbols, and multiplier symbols, may or may not have a value of their own. It varies from one company that develops these games to the next.
You can learn the value of each symbol and its specific function simply by launching the PAYTABLE in any online slot machine. Let’s start by taking a look at the regular-paying symbols:
Low-value symbols – these are traditionally things like poker symbols, including 9 (lowest valued symbol), 10, jack, queen, king, and ace (highest valued low-paying symbol). Cherries, lemons, and other fruits are also generally the lower-paying symbols, along with hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs, and single bars
Mid-value symbols – these are traditionally things like bells, dice, and double bars
High-value symbols – these are traditionally things like 7s, triple bars, gold bars, etc.
Do all slots use these symbols?
No. In fact, most online slots today don’t use any of these symbols and only use ones that are unique to that slot alone. It’s not essential to know the value of each symbol, but it does help to know what to look out for.
For example, you want to cheer on the highest-valued symbols landing, not the rubbish low-value symbols. Again, this info can all be found in the paytable.
Most players quickly adjust to new slots and only take a few minutes to figure out which symbols are the most important ones to keep an eye out for.
The most important symbols you want to land in consecutive order on all 3 or 5 reels (depending on how many reels that slot has) and across any of the active paylines are the highest-valued symbols, known as the jackpot symbols. Filling an active payline with these symbols will instantly reward you with the game’s top prize.
What about the special symbols?
These are the most important symbols that can trigger a variety of in-play features or second-screen bonus rounds.
You often need at least 3 Scatter Symbols to land anywhere in view to trigger the free spins bonus. Sometimes, they must land in a certain order (perhaps on reels 1, 3, and 5 on the same spin), and other times, it doesn’t matter where they land to trigger the feature.
Bonus symbols work in pretty much the same way. When a sufficient number of bonus symbols show up, one of several bonus features will be awarded. Each slot is different in terms of which bonus features it has.
In a picking bonus, which usually happens on a second screen away from the reels, simply click or tap on the objects to reveal hidden prizes. Alternatively, it could be a money wheel bonus feature, where you get to spin the wheel to find out which prize(s) you have won.
Finally, you have Wild Symbols, which act as mirror symbols and will substitute other symbols to help form new winning combos that otherwise weren’t there. You can now find numerous Wild Symbol variations that perform many exciting actions.
Common Wild Symbols to keep an eye out for are Growing/Expanding Wilds (can fill entire columns/reels, or rows), Multiplier Wilds (2X, 3X, or 5X Multipliers that can help boost the line win even further), Shifting Wilds, Sticky Wilds, and Stacked/Grouped Wilds.
All the symbols mentioned above are the most common ones you will likely come across when playing today’s best online slots at licensed casino sites.